Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.
Parallel Texts: Matthew 13:54-58; Luke 4:16-31
The gospel is spread through relationships; we need relationships with other people if we are going to reach them for Christ. Yet there are times when our relationship with someone might be too close to reach them, and Jesus runs into this odd phenomenon in Nazareth.
He speaks in the synagogue, the people are amazed just like the people have been all over the rest of Galilee, and then they remember who He is… the carpenter’s kid. How can the carpenter’s kid announce the Kingdom? No, that’s nuts… it can’t be! ‘Remember the time he and those other boys…?’
Verse 3 is controversial in some circles, naming Jesus’ four brothers and mentioning that He also had sisters. It seems clear to me, even though some see it differently; another example of the role played by presuppositions, because if your presupposition was that Mary and Joseph had no other children, then you will find a way to change the meaning of the words to maintain your presupposition.
It is often difficult to reach our own families and close friends for Christ because the relationship is too close. Yes, this can be an advantage, but just as often it’s a disadvantage, and this is troubling for many, even heartbreaking. Yet we can still maintain influence, even though someone else may bring in the harvest. This frequently is maintained simply by our quiet example of faith, rather than our clever words. We don’t have great detail on this, but we do know that Jesus’ family, or at least many of them, came to faith later in the gospel story, and that should give us hope for our own family members who may be less than responsive to our pleas.
Parallel Texts: Matthew 9:35-38; 10:1. 5-12; 11:1; Luke 9:1-6
It is very interesting that Mark puts this immediately after the previous section. Remember that we have just looked at what happened when Jesus brought the Kingdom message to His home town of Nazareth for the first time; they rejected Him. Now, He leaves Nazareth and sends out the twelve for the third circuit of Galilee in what almost seems like a dry run of what would happen later, after Pentecost.
Jesus was rejected in His home town, and uttered the famous line: “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” (v. 4)
All through His early Galilean ministry, Jesus has preached the Kingdom, healed the sick and lame; He has driven out demons, forgiven sins and even raised a girl from the dead. During this time, He was showing what the Kingdom of Heaven is all about: Restoring people to God by the forgiveness of sins, making us whole again, chasing away the influence of evil and bringing eternal life and relationship with God. After being rejected in Nazareth, a new picture emerges of what was to come.
Jesus preached to His own and they rejected His message, then He sent His disciples out to the farthest parts of the region to proclaim the message there, and they would be better received. After Pentecost, the Apostles would first preach in Jerusalem, then in Judea, but even though some came to faith, their own would, by and large, reject the message, and then it would be sent to far corners of the globe, where it would be better received.
After this time, there will be more contact with the authorities, more and more they will oppose Him, and the drama will increase as the time begins to grow shorter. But first, there will be news from Judea.